There are many ways in which you can be stopped from creating solutions and generating ideas. Some are physical but many are psychological. Here are five such blockages together with suggestions for removing them.

1. Copying is cheating
This may be the case for school examinations but not in the world of business. Really great ideas are often protected with patents and copyright so you cannot use them (not without fear of legal action anyway). If an idea is not protected then you can use it, I call it ‘creative swiping’. Tell the doubters that this will get things done quickly and that you can make your own mark by tailoring the idea for you own purposes. This is exactly the philosophy behind Open Source Software.

2. We Must Figure It Out Ourselves
There is great pleasure in doing this however why should you do this if someone else has already done so? Save time and create original ideas elsewhere. Avoid getting into this situation by rewarding people according to the generation of a solution rather than for the effort put in to generating a solution. They will soon get the message.

3. We Are Inferior If We Cannot Figure Things Out
This is a natural feeling and if bad if you are always taking in ideas from outside (some people do however make a good business out of this). At some point your problem solving team will generate ideas that other people will wish to use so the balance can be redressed. You should emphasise that customisation and adaptation are as important as original thought.

4. Problems Are Owned By Individuals
People have a great attachment to the problems that they work on, particularly engineers and scientists. They can be reluctant to share their problems so you can explain that the issue is critical (making them feel important) so it might be necessary to involve others or look outside the organisation as a normal part of solving problems. Do not remove ownership from the original owner if at all possible and never force people to work on issues that they do not own or have no interest in if you wish them to remain motivated.

5. Fear Of Being Replaced
This is common when it is suggested that problem owners share their problems of look for outside help. Reinforce the idea that nobody is being replaced and that looking elsewhere for solutions is part of the problem solver’s toolkit.

Address the above and you will notice an improvement immediately.

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